Monday, December 27, 2010

Pilates. Is that French for "I'll kick your ass"?

Having already posted a story about my Hot Yoga adventure it is only fair that I do the same for a recent Pilate's session.

I am at the Y on the spin bike minding my own business. I am just about 10 minutes in to my hour work out when Speedy Jan (Ragnar Half Nuts) suddenly appears in front of me out of nowhere. Hence the name Speedy Jan. I figured she was just going to say hi and give me encouraging words. Nope.

"Want to do Pilate's with me?" At that point I am thinking that she is surely talking about something in the future. Like maybe January. You know. Part of some new triathlon training program since I am attempting an Ironman in 2011. So of course I say sure. And I just keep on spinning. She says c'mon then. Well when does the class start? In two minutes. Fight or flight is on my mind. I have no mat. I will get you one. Damn. Just like that Speedy is gone. Damn. Damn. Damn. I knew I should have gone to the Y earlier. As I am getting off the bike a woman says, "so you're going to do Pilate's? Good luck." Damn.

I get in the room and tell SJ that I would like to be in the back of class so as not to be laughed at. At least that is where B.o.b. put me when I went to hot yoga and I didn't even ask her to. What are friends for. So there my mat lays right up front. Who are my friends? Again, just like hot yoga, low male participation. I see two other guys. One that does triathlons and the other guy was yapping with three young ladies. We all know why he was here.

I asked SJ how much downward dog we would be doing. Oh you will pray for downward dog. Enough of the damn's already.

We start standing and doing some light stretching. This was probably about the easiest it was going to be. I try not to look in the mirror so I would not see what everyone else could see. I then start to realize that I am not as flexible as I thought. Now to the fun stuff.

We lay on the mat and start the ab/core work. Again I realize that I have lost some of my flexibility. I can blame it on the Christmas season and not my desire for craft beer lately.

Now we are told to lay on our side and lift our leg that is on the floor towards the ceiling. Do what? And then make circles with that same leg. I raise my hand instead to ask if it matters how high I raise my leg. Just do the best you can I hear. Small circles. Big circles. Stretch forward and then reach back. All with this same leg that is on the ground. Again more circles. My ass is burning. No really. I smell smoke.

We are then told to turn over and do the same thing again with the other leg. Why did I know this was going to happen. I look back at SJ and she is just a smiling. Hopefully not at me. Yeah right. Thanks again SJ. What seemed like hours was only 10 minutes. Are you kidding me.

Below is what SJ's circles were and what my circles were during this mess.

Needless to say we can see by this example who is in better Pilate's shape. Well pretty much everyone in the room was on the left. I was told by SJ after class that this was a stand-in instructor and the class is usually harder. Great way to convince me to return.

All kidding aside, it was not as hard as I made out to be. Yeah right. You keep on saying that to yourself Walt. I do thank SJ for asking me to go to the class with her. I would not have done it on my own. I will do it without her in the future so I can put my mat in the back of the class. SJ now owes me a hot yoga class. I can't say one is easier than the other. The fact that I am willing to do the hot yoga again before the Pilate's may say something though.

A new year is on the horizon. May you find yourself in 2011. If you found yourself in 2010 then help someone find themselves in 2011.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ragnar 2010 Chapter 2....Nothing Like Starting Alone

I now have both my ipods. Oh and yes the two power converters. Gotta have those Christmas lights working.

Speedy Jan is driving and I am the co-pilot. I was doing my best at navigating and reassuring B.o.b. that we would make it to the start in plenty of time. I kept pointing at the arrival time on the GPS. We had a start time of 11 a.m. and the GPS showed our arrival time of 10:32.

Van 1 was well on their way. They were due to arrive at about 10. There was a mandatory safety briefing held an hour before the team's start time. Only Van 1 had to attend this meeting so I knew we were in no hurry. Sort of.

This gave us plenty of time to catch up with Jen who just got in the night before from Michigan. I was also going to try and get a nap in but fat chance once The Caribbean moved from the back seat to the seat behind me. The stories he decided to tell were something else. Let me share one of them with you. I think it was his amazement that there is Braille on a drive thru ATM. So blind people can't drive? He also wanted us to know that if he were a woman and married to Stevie Wonder, he would buy all Stevie's shirts from Wal-mart. They would all be white cotton.

Captain Nuts' Tip #9. When you are the one always pulling someones leg, don't assume that your leg is being pulled when something does not sound believable.

We are about 20 minutes from the start when I get a call from Van 1. I am told of some bad news. They were getting gas and turned the van off. The van did not start back up. The hood was opened and the battery was corroded. They were able to get a jump and were almost to the start. This was not good.

I told everyone else in Van 2 what I was just told and not a person in the van believed this really happened. They are just messing with you. There's no way a rental van would have a dead battery. And why were they already getting gas. The van came with a quarter tank is why.

Captain Nuts' Tip #10. When renting a vehicle, try to use a Nationally known company and not someone from Craigslist.

We are now about a mile from the start when I see Van 1 turn in front of us. I point at the van and tell my Van 2ers there goes Van 1. I guess they were not kidding. There is no way we are going to start at 11. I now feel vindicated for having to go back to my house all those times.

I have SJ drop me off at the check-in so I could explain our situation and try to get a new start time. I could see the other teams were finishing the safety meeting. We were allowed to start at 11:30 but would be the only team. We still had to get the safety briefing out of the way first.

We all gather around for our personalized safety meeting. We get our numbers, orange flags, shirts and goodies. Shorty Shorts is running in circles in anticipation. He said this is the first time he has started a race where he is the only person. I told him not to get lost. He said he does not get lost. I then reminded him of the time we did the Dances With Dirt race. "Well I won't get lost this time." He was off and running. He only had 3.4 miles for his first leg.

Oh and Van 1. I had to jump it off so they could get going. Shorty Shorts had assured me that the first place they go after runner 6 is done will be an Autozone.

Now time to decorate Van 2. we had to be mindful this year of our visuals. One of the rules was the decorations had to be explainable to a 4th grader. Hell these days that gave us plenty of wiggle room. And with a team name like Half Nuts, we had an out. B.o.b. made us some cloth signs this year. We learned from last year that cardboard does not like the wind. We also used a different tape and some window chalk. Big nut attached to van grill. Decorations done.

Captain Nuts' Tip #11. If something disappears and you don't try to find it, then you probably don't need it anyways.

Let's go eat. McDonald's anyone?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ragnar 2010...Here Come Deez

Those that follow my blog have surely read the Half Nuts Ragnar recaps by Redhead and B.o.b. by now. I seem to have a different take on what I observed and experienced. And as a bonus, I can't seem to wrap my recaps up in 2-3 blogs. Much less 2-3 months. So here is my December edition of the recap.

Captain Nuts' Tip #1. When preparing for a trip, make a list of what to pack. Since you are making a list, pack what's on the list. The old saying of, "If I forget something I will just buy it when I get there," does not always apply. Especially if what you forgot you need before you get to where you are getting to.

Captain Nuts' Tip #2. If you forget something, try to remember you forgot it within 5 minutes of leaving where the item is located that you forgot.

I was going to be picked up from my house at 7:15 in the a.m. I knew this for about a week. Plenty of time to pack and make some mix cd's for both vans. Just don't forget to make a list of what to pack. I mean I did this same trip last year. What could be so hard.

I decided to start making the mix cd's at about 11 in the p.m. the night before I was going to be picked up. I then started packing at 6 a.m. the morning of. And that list. Oh I made one. It was in my head with all the other stuff going on. So tip #1 would have been very handy had I come up with that tip before this blog. But I did get the mix cd's made.

Speedy Jan and The Caribbean picked me up in the Classic right on time. At the time, they were not aware that I was just about 57% packed. I opened the garage door and just started tossing things on to the driveway whether they were needed or not. I was not in panic mode. I really wasn't. SJ and TC loaded the bed of the Classic and I ran through that "list" in my head and everything was checked. I promise.

We then left and headed to Avis to get Van 2. WAIT. I need to go back to the house. I forgot something that I really need. I must have this bag. I could not say at the time what it was. But I did need what was inside this bag. Very important. I grabbed the bag and now we were off. Tip #2 was successful at this point. At this point.

Just about the time we get to Avis, which is well past the 5 minute from home mark, I realize that I forgot my mp3 players. I love music. Music is my soulmate so to speak. I knew we were well past the turnaround point but I decided to bring it up anyway. I thought for a moment that I could just buy an mp3 player while Van 1 was running. SJ then reminded me there would be no music on it. Tips #1 and #2 would have been nice to know before today.

Captain Nuts' Tip #3. If you forget something very important to you, come up with another forgotten item that is important to have for everyone else. This will allow you to get your item and not appear to be all about you.

We finally arrived at Shorty Shorts' house. Most of the team is there and the others are in route. All seems to be well until I see the Christmas lights that are going to be used for van decorations being given to someone in Van 1. In order for the Christmas lights to work, a power converter is used. Who is supposed to bring the two power converters. Would you believe it was me. This is where Tip #3 comes in to play. I get to get my ipods now. This was going to take some convincing. This is also why I am Captain Nuts.

I have a private meeting with Junior Captain Shorty Shorts. I tell him that Van 1 will head to the start. Van 2 goes back East and gets the two power converters and then meets Van 1 at the start with 30 minutes to spare before the race begins. Plenty of time. What could go wrong. No really. What could go wrong?

To be continued.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ragnar....already or all ready.

Hard to believe a year has passed since Ragnar Central Florida 2009. What a year makes. Here comes team Half Nuts again. As Captain Nuts I would like to say thanks to my entire team from last year. I thank you for what you did for the team. Had the Captain kept up with his blogging duties the rest of the world could have known what you did as well.

There are six new additions to team Half Nuts this year but the core tastes the same. Five of the six are Ragnar that is. Not sure about the biblical virgin part but hey 202 miles in a van counts as something.

I will use this blog to recap last years event based solely on notes that were taken during the trip from Van 2 which was occupied by Your Captain, Redhead Jen, Shorty Shorts Jason, P-Funk, Caribbean Steve and B.o.b. Hopefully my new victims, I mean runners, will get the idea that this is not only a race but an adventure. A funtastic one. It is truly what you/they make of it. You see I again will be in Van 2. Van 2 For Life Baby as the tattoo says.

Sponge Bob nipple band-aids.
S.S. chest hair can be in corn rows/Snoop Dogg perm.
C-Steve finger splashing water for his homies.
Captain stopped short for Shorty Shorts.
Steve revoked B.o.b.'s black card because she wants to jump out of planes.
Steve insist Jen teach him to text.
Sweet Caroline sing along with drum solo by Steve.
The newly diagnosed Leak-a-litis Syndrome.
Steve has the strength of an infant.
The Captain knows all since he is a triathlete.
Ain't no crying in Ragnar.
Tuna or onions.
These slap bracelets can cut a bitch.
P-Funk beats on back window of van because the light was left on.
Red pees too much.
Red Bull keeps you awake while pooing.
Redhead admits girls poo.
B.o.b. has the shortest intestines.
Steve ain't sleep yet.
Triathletes are human also. They get nervous poops.
Shorty shorts had to catch the runners that Steve could not.
Is this an exchange point? Nope. Just a D.U.I. checkpoint.
How do you spell poop noises? With a v maybe.
Red is so white that she glows in the dark.
That was an exchange we just drove past.
I can't see. Can you have Jen stand over here.
Steve injured his labia while riding the bike.
Why is the navigator sleeping?
Hey, it's not pretty. It's not sexy. It may not even be healthy but damn it, it's Ragnar. And it's an adventure.
The Captain showed Red and Shorty Shorts a big bug in the tent.
The Captain suggested Steve wear a job bra so he didn't slap himself in the face so much when he ran.
Shorty Shorts, "I do what I want." Said prior to the cell phone call to his girlfriend.
Random booty shaking on the side of the highway by the Van 2 dancers.
Steve, "this is the three best days of my life."
Red loaned her shorts to Shorty Shorts. So we thought but then were told they are his.
B.o.b. is deceptively slow looking.
Shorty Shorts, "I can't believe I am single." Said after the phone call to his girlfriend.
Red pees so much it's no wonder she has rubber sheets.
Steve just wants to have a job washing balls.
It smells like Tiger Breeze in here.
If I can't please it then I will damage it.

That is just a short list of the things that were said and so many were left out due to their personal meanings, lack of humour or just plain vulgarity. I think B.o.b. has that list but hey she can start a new list this Friday.

I truly look forward to this weekend's race. The past two years have been great experiences. I have a great group of ten runners and one Islander. We are not doing this for any finish line awards cause we ain't fast enough. We are not in it to win it. We each have our own reasons why. Some for the love. Some for the money. And some for the country. I for one am doing it because if I was able to convince eleven suckers to pay entry fees, I would get a free entry. Ragnar here come the Half Nuts. Led by yours truly.

Captain Nuts

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Size Does Matter...

Does size matter? That has been a long debated question and depending on who you ask and when you do it depends on the answer you get. I will have to say size does matter when it comes to tents. Tents you ask. Well of course tents. What were you thinking?

I love camping. I always have. I prefer the rugged style camping where it is just you, a sleeping bag, a tent, a fire and Mother Nature. No hot shower is required. Living on the West Coast of Florida kind of limits you in your camping options for day trips. You have Ft Desoto, Hillsborough River State Park and Best Buy.

I have two daughters and wanted to take them camping. Kind of break them in easy. Our first trip was when they were 7 and 4. Where would you take kids camping in Florida. Well what do you know. There is a campground at Disney World. The Fort Wilderness Campground which is only an hour away.

I had recently purchased a five person tent from the sports store. I figured there was only four of us so a five person tent would be fine. Two adults. Two kids. Plenty of room. But wait. I was also told that blow up mattresses would be required. What? Blow up mattresses. That's not camping. Suppose I was the one to be broken in easy.

The girls were always excited to go to DW. This time they were especially excited because we were going to camp. I had made them forts in the living room many times but this time the fort was outside. We checked in and found our plot of land. We were next to a large RV/bus. This thing was probably the size of our house.

Now it's show time. Daddy has to set up camp. I take the tent out and begin to set it up. I had the tent up in less than ten minutes. Now did I mention the blow up mattresses. When I say blow up, they were literally blow up mattresses. I am looking for the electric air pump. I was then told these could only be blown up by hand or mouth. And for some reason they could only be blown up by the on-site male. I spent the next hour and a half blowing up these two twin mattresses. All the while I am sure there was some guy standing in the mansion on wheels next to us looking out the tinted window with a glass of bourbon on the rocks saying look at the common folks.

One thing I began to notice was that these mattresses side by side were larger than the tent. This was going to be interesting. The mattresses were put in the tent but not side by side. We just wanted to walk around the campground before it got too late. It was also dinner time.

Now it was bed time and everyone was ready for bed. This is when we realized that the mattresses did not fit in the tent. When put side by side, the mattresses curved up along the tent walls. Thank goodness the tent was staked down. The sleeping arrangements? Should the adults be on the outside weighing down the mattresses. But would we roll on to the kids and have a tragic event. We decided to have the adults sleep in the middle and the little ones would sleep on the edge of the mattresses. About every hour we would have a ball of family meeting in the middle. After the third time we just kept on sleeping.

The next morning all was well. The experience was one of those family things that you talk about later. A character breakfast always helps. I had a different take. I neatly folded the tent. Placed it back in the box and returned it to the sports store that Monday. I bought an 8 person tent and have had no issues since. The first tent would probably have been plenty of room for 5 but when you have to put air mattresses inside, size does matter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is It Hot In Here Or Just Me?

I am all about trying new fitness or sports activities within reason. And I don't just mean lawn darts, beer pong or bowling. I mean real fitness challenges. So when a running friend, B.o.B., was talking after a group run about doing "Hot Yoga", it perked my interest. She claimed that others from the running group, including guys, had already participated. Knowing who they were I figured why not give it a try. I did a pilates class some time ago and heard Yoga was easier. I can already touch my toes. What could be so hard about some slow stretching while humming.

I asked many questions the closer I got to class. Do I have to wear those pants? If I can wear shorts should they at least be knee length. Should I stretch a little before the class so I don't look like a rookie? Would Chipotle be okay for lunch the day of class? How hot is hot yoga? Will I be the only dude? Not that that would be a deal breaker or anything. Just wondering my ratio. Is there some type of beginner's curve? All I was told was to not be late. So I showed up a half hour early. I called B.o.b. to see if it was okay to take a nap while I waited. She discouraged this. So many rules. Not sure if they are her rules or yoga rules.

Asana Yoga of Brandon was going to be my sweat box for the evening. For at least 90 minutes according to their web site. The studio was inside a small strip store building. I was glad to see it was not part of a bigger gym chain. I still found myself parking in the rear though. Once inside the studio I was impressed. Wood floors. Soothing decor. A water fountain. An awesome smell. And an emergency exit.

B.o.b. checked me in as a new student and used one of her free sessions for me. I had to sign a waiver and provide some basic information. While I did this B.o.b. set me up in the corner and kind of out of the way. Not sure if that was good or bad. It was close to the emergency exit so I did not complain. One of the students asked if we were using straps tonight. Straps? Yoga? I visualized me not being able to do the "Walking Dog Climbing Cat" pose and then being strapped up until the pose was completed. I was assured I would not be strapped to anything. Relief.

I sat down on my mat and towel. I noticed there was a burlap looking type blanket folded next to my space. Others had the same type of blanket. This must be used during the "Bucking Donkey" pose. Great. This should be a show.

I was expecting my instructor to be an old skinny bald man wearing a diaper. This was not the case at all. A young woman named Alissa. She seemed very relaxed and encouraging. But what did I know, could have been a ploy until we got started. I mean, she did unplug the water fountain.

The music started and here we go. Sitting up straight. Eyes closed and relaxed breathing. I at least was not the only guy there. A middle school boy was with his mother.

I can't tell you everything we did. I did the best I could. Some of the moves and poses were pretty hard. I was able to stay in the "Downward Dog" pretty good. That "Warrior's" pose was kicking my butt. My favorite was the "Baby" position which was just sitting on your knees and leaning over. We should have done more of this. The instructor did tell us that if we needed to take breaks we could. I did not want to do this. I was trying to hang in there. There was some plank move we did that had us in a push up position and then turned our body to the side and lift up one arm towards the ceiling. My stability arm started shaking like spaghetti. I often looked around and compared myself to others. I wasn't doing that bad. Hopefully there was no wagering.

There was a time when we were lying on our backs and the lights started to dim. I thought, either I am blacking out or she's dimming the lights. I dare not say anything out loud. I saw the instructor walk by so I just started to laugh. There were many times that I laughed at myself and at what I was seeing in front of me. I was very careful to keep all comments to myself. I did not want to get kicked out on the first go.

I did sweat a good bit. The class was tougher than I thought it would be. The instructor was very helpful and only had to reposition me once. Not to say that I was doing everything right. She just needed to spend time with the other students. I will definitely go back and give this another try. Namaste.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daddy Sign This

Us guys have all learned over the years that if you want to get out of doing something again, you have to mess it up the first time. Take laundry for instance. Wash all the clothes together. Colors with whites. Cottons with polyesters. Towels with delicates. And then put them all in the dryer on the same temperature.

Grocery shopping. I don't need a list. What was it I was supposed to get. Was that large eggs or medium. 2% or 1% milk. The purple top or the blue top. Wheat bread or white wheat bread. These bananas look fine. Hey that is a great deal on yogurt. 20 for $6. Hey I could sure use a half gallon of orange juice. And also a half gallon of grapefruit juice. You know what they say about grapefruit juice. I better put this small basket back and get a cart. What was on that list again. Wish the cell phone reception were better in here. What do you mean we are on a budget. What do you mean you never ever spent this much on groceries. Yes we need this many cans of beans. I swore I put the milk in the cart.

Making the bed. Is there really a need for that. There was a need while I was in the Army because there was some pissed off dude with a Smokey The Bear hat on yelling at me if I didn't . But now? Why tuck the covers in when your just going to take them out.

Yesterday was the first day of school for my girls. Year after year their mother has always been the one to sign forms and look at papers and get school supplies and so on. But last night when my oldest asked her mother to sign papers, I spoke up and volunteered my signature. Figured I would finally get involved after all these years. My oldest reluctantly agreed.

She began to pass me forms and just say sign here. Well I really wanted to read the fine print before I signed hers or my life away. It wasn't like I was buying a car. Well who reads all those forms. After about the third form, I just started scribbling my signature. Should have read the fine print. I tell my youngest that I would sign her forms the next day.

The next evening, my oldest comes to me, in front of her mother and sister, and tells me that I signed some form that I should not have. "Daddy. Because you signed this form, I am not allowed to get on the computer in class. How can I do my Keyboarding class? And this form you signed means I have bowel and kidney issues which mean I may need an escort to the bathroom." I thought Keyboarding was a music class not a business class. And I don't want her just wondering the halls.

Needless to say the next thing I hear is my youngest say, "Mommy can you sign my forms?" No more forms for me to sign this year. Yippy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What A Difference A Week Makes Part 2

I am now looking for B.o.B. Hoping to find her before the race starts. Give her some last minute tips. Some words of encouragement. Some words of wisdom. All the while hoping that she forgets that I forgot about her earlier this morning. Found her. What a cute pink thing she has stretched on her head. Those things do stretch.

So I hear you been looking for me and cussing me out. She tells me that she was totally lost in the transition and did not know how to set up her stuff or what to do. I suppose she forgot the transition set up class I gave her not two mornings prior by her car after a leisure bike ride. Oh yeah. "I got it." Well then. I say to her, "sometimes the mama bird has to just push the baby out of the nest and hope you fly." She says, "this bird just got squished on the pavement." Well hopefully that bird can swim.

I was assigned the third wave for this triathlon. Males 40-49 age group. I decided to take the inside lane, so to speak, and get to the turn buoy before all the other dudes get there. Great idea in theory but does not always work. The horn blows and we are off. I am able to almost walk to the first buoy. I know you are supposed to swim as much as possible but some other guy was swimming in front of me and I did not want to get kicked in the face. The water was a little rough but I ended up 9th out of the water in my age group.

Once out of the water there was this short lagoon we had to go through to get to the bikes. The lagoon was about 20 yards across and about waist deep in the center. I was not going to swim at this point due to the color, smell and taste of the water. I could handle squishy toes for 20 yards.

Got to my bike rack and realized all the bikes were still there. I was feeling a little better at this point. Got on my bike and headed out for the 10 miler. I kept a steady 22-24 mph pace. I was trying to save my legs for the run. The wind was at my back for 5 and you know what the last 5 was. Only passed by two guys in my age group on the bike. Passed one of them before the bike finish. I was one of those guys saying "on your left" that B.o.B. was upset about. Although I never saw her on the bike course or I would have said it to her. Got off the bike and this time no other bikes on the rack. Good sign.

I have this issue about to wear or not to wear socks on the run. Triathlons are all about timing. It takes a little time to put socks on. The last time I did a sprint triathlon without socks I got some nice blisters on my feet. The very next triathlon I wore socks. If my math is right it seems every other tri is a sock race. Well no socks this time. Put my shoes on and I am off and running.

Felt very good on the run. I did not wear my Garmin so I was not aware of my actual pace. I thought I was probably doing about 8:30 miles. The run was hot. No shade. Not to mention no shade. I initially was pushing for a 1:05 finish but wound up with a 1:06:09. I think this is my fastest sprint time. I know I have some areas to work on. But after my incident at the Xterra triathlon, I am happy with this ending. I was able to cheer on my fellow BRA runners that were still finishing since I had no need to be in the red tent.

I reserve this space to thank those that came out and cheered us on for this race. It does mean a lot to have you there. I know other spectators just yell out stuff but it is different when it is someone you know. I would like to thank Jess, Chris, Tanya, Patricia, Elton and Esther for the yells, screams, laughs and hugs and kisses.

Almost forgot. I got some damn nice blisters on my right foot. Good thing the next race is a socks on one.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What A Difference A Week Makes

The headline in last Monday morning's sports section of the local paper was, "Down Goes Walt! Down Goes Walt!" Having succomb to the needle, I still had another triathlon, Topgun 10, looming less than 6 days away. All be it a sprint, it was still going to be hot. My manager had me listed as day to day. But in reality aren't we all day to day.

I was going to do this triathlon no matter what. There were atleast three people from my running group that were making their triathlon debut. One of which is B.o.B. I was also kind of coaching her a little along the way so I deffinately had to make a showing.

I had to approach this race a little different than I did the Xterra tri. Actually, a lot different. I was told that since I dehydrated there was the possibility that I could relapse. Really. Relapse. That sounds like some type of 12 stepper condition. And as any good 12 stepper would do, I decided no beer or alcohol during the week. Sorry Red Stripe girls Walt will sit this one out.

I drank plenty of water during the week. And just about a gallon on Friday. My dinner was a little different this time. I normally have some type of pasta with chicken. My youngest daughter loves her some General Tso's chicken. Well since your ordering takeout, isn't lo-mein a type of pasta. I was told it was. I shall have me some shrimp lo-mein. And it was good. But so was the sweet-n-sour chicken. The wonton soup was also yummy. Wontons are pasta, right. That's what I thought.

Went to bed early due to the 4 a.m. wake up. That is the sucky thing about local triathlons. The early wake ups. Best be early to the race than late and rushing around and also standing in the long ass port-o-let lines. Can't do everything on a warm-up swim. My alarm clock goes off at 4 and I for that brief moment could not for the life of me figure out why my alarm clock going off so damn early. Oh yeah.

I put all my gear on the curb and laid on the driveway trying to catch a short nap while waiting on my ride. The last time I laid down on the concrete...well you know the story.

Picked up by Jan and on the way to meet B.o.B. who was going to follow us. Had to make sure she got to the race in time. No backing out now there B.o.B. I told here that if she was not at the meet location we would come to her house and yank her ass out of bed. Low and behold, there she was right on time. Actually it looked as if she had been there all night but who am I to question her committment.

Got to the race site and realized there were a lot of other people who did not want to stand in the long ass port-o-let line. Damn them. Got my bike out and gear ready to proceed to the bike transition area when I heard a bit of a desperation scream. "I can't get my front wheel on! I just can't." Well who do you think that was. "I just can't do it." I calmly walked over and loosened the front skewer just a wee bit more and success. I then started to adjust the brake and she told me, "I got it." Now that is something I had been noticing since we started riding together. I would try to help her out at times with the bike and she would, as a strong woman would, tell me can do it. Well then. You can't hold someones hand forever can you.

**A free triathlon tip from Walt.** If you can get your race packet the day before the race, do so. If not, find out what time the packet pick-up opens on race morning and be there 15 minutes prior to that.

Jan and I sent B.o.B. off to packet pick-up and we entered the bike transition area. The port-o-let was about 5 rows away from my bike rack and the line was already long. I had planned on setting my gear up and then finding B.o.B. to give her a hand. But first things first. I was now in line. By the time that was taken care of and my gear set-up, it was time to leave the transition area. I look all over and don't see B.o.B. I guess she got set up okay so I jog down to the beach. I usually like to get a short swim in before the race starts.

I meet up with some of the other BRA group on the way and am asked if I have seen Beth. I say no and also add that I have not seen her since she walked to get her packet. I was then told that she was just a cussing me. "I can't believe Walt left me like that. I did not know what to do once I got my stuff. Where is he. I am going to..." Oh boy. Suppose I shall find her now....well maybe.

To be continued....I promise.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My First Off-road Triathlon Race....

Some lessons in life are best learned the hot way. More on that later....

Over the years I have completed over 100 triathlons but have never competed in an off-road trail bike/run triathlon. These races are still the swim/bike/run format but use mountain bike trails for both the bike and run portions. The most familiar branded ones are put on by Xterra. There are three in Florida; Jacksonville, Miami and outside of Ft Myers. A buddy and I decided to sign-up for the XterraFirstCoast which was in Jacksonville. A half mile swim in the Atlantic, a 13 mile trail ride and 5k ish trail run. Sounds like a blast.
I am a fairly strong swimmer so the half mile swim would be no big deal. It's just the East Coast of Florida where they have numerous shark attacks. I have a mountain bike but am not a "mountain biker" so to speak. I have been riding the bike lately, only on the road, while escorting a friend who is training for her first triathlon (wonder who that is). I was of the mindset of how hard could it be to mountain bike in Florida. And I have also done a few trail runs. Well running not on pavement is the same as a trail run, right.

My buddy and I decided to drive my Civic to Jacksonville the day before the race. I warned him that the air was not as cold lately but he seemed to not mind. I was kind of used to it and really didn't drive the car much so getting the air fixed was no priority. We left early in the morning so the lack of ice cold air was not an issue.

We drove to the race site where our packets were available for pick-up. We also, well actually my buddy, decided we should ride the course at least once to get an idea of how it was going to be. The bike course was a 4.5 mile ish loop which we were to do three times on race day. I decided to use my clip in pedals for the practice ride. I use them all the time on my road and tri bikes and have recently been using them on my mountain bike. But remember, I have only been riding my mountain bike on the road.

The beginning of the loop was fairly easy. A single track with tight turns but nothing outrageous. The further in to the trails the harder it got. Some uphills, roots, sugar sand, roots, stumps, sugar sand, downhills, sugar sand, roots, sugar sand, sugar sand, oh wait my shoes are locked on my pedals. And down goes Frazier. I did not see that tree off to the side there. My leg introduced itself to Mr Pine. Okay. Remember your shoes are locked in. Just kick your heel out of the pedal. Just an idea.

I was doing fine until I slowed on an uphill and decided to remind myself that my shoes were locked on to my pedal. The front of my bike was actually stuck on a tree. My front wheel was off the ground and I was on my ass with a root of some sort getting to know me better.
Nice scrape on my leg and also just happened to be the side where my camera was in my pocket. Those Canons are sturdy and solid. My first lesson was that I would not be using my cycling shoes nor these pedals for the race. Once I finished the lap, I was glad to see my buddy had also crashed. His crash drew blood from his knee. I reminded him that sharks like the smell of blood.

We went to the restaurant where the pre-race dinner/party was being held. This was at the Caribbee Key in Neptune Beach. I suggest you go there if you are ever in the area. I had an excellent grilled medium rare Ahi tuna over pasta dish. I also won an Xterra mug during the giveaways.

One of the race sponsors was Red Stripe beer. There were these two ladies giving out free samples at the restaurant. Free samples of Red Stripe that is. I asked for a sample just to be nice. I thought I would get some poured in to a small glass. Nope. I was given a full bottle. I like these free samples. I knew I had a race in the morning but who could resist free beer from the Red Stripe girls. So I had another.

We left the restaurant and walked around a little trying to check out some of the local hang-outs. It was still early yet. I drank some water at a couple of places because we knew we could not get our "drink on" since we had the race the next morning. We decided to call it a night after I had a Magic Hat No. 9 at the bar above Caribbee Key.

Back to the hotel and in bed before 11. The race was about two miles from the hotel so we knew we could sleep in a little. We got all our gear together and decided what time to set the alarm clock. We told camp fire stories until we fell asleep with hopes of having a great race the following morning. Hogwash. I hope you realize we were in separate beds.

Up bright and early and headed over to the race site. The bike transition area was first come first serve racking. Most triathlons have numbered racks which correspond to your race number. We did not show up early enough to get a good spot. All of the spots on the pavement were taken so we ended up in the dirt. That's why it is important to bring a towel with you as part of your gear.

There was a team meeting held about ten minutes prior to the race start. The participants and the spectators gathered around the race director for some last minute instructions. The director announced twice that the water conditions were excellent for a great swim. Just swim past the breakers to the buoys and swim north along the beach and back in. I could just tell in his voice there was something else he wanted to add. There were some whispers about someone getting bit on the foot by a shark "in these same waters" the day before that required 400 stitches. No that was not announced. The race director instead asked if anyone was allergic to jellyfish stings. Now how would you know if you were or not. Is that like wondering if it would hurt if you put a knife in to a power outlet. Did he have a jellyfish in a jar and was going to make us touch it first to see what happens. He said jellyfish had been spotted on the swim course but not to worry if your allergic because they have a bottle of ammonia to pour on you if you need it. I figured it would pay off that I was in the second wave and by then the jellyfish would be tired having dealt with the first wave of swimmers. Meeting over so head to the beach.

Same as always. Swim outside the buoys and swim back in. Wait. There's waves here on the East Coast. Those are some pretty big waves. I could drown before the first buoy. Not good but hey if it were easy everyone would do it. So jellyfish, waves, murky water, sharks ( I know they are there. I saw the movie.) and wavy jellyfish. Take your time getting out to past the breakers and all will be fine. And it was. I had a great swim. No jellyfish. The only thing that bumped me was another swimmer. I hope.

In transition and on the bike I go. Needless to say having a fast swim did not help me at all. I was passed by many on the first lap. I will be the first to admit that looks are deceiving when it comes to trail riding. There were people passing me that would not have passed me on a road bike. I give them credit. Trail riding is harder than it seems. I have basic skills and they showed. I barely knew where to fall. The bad thing is that by the time I was on my third lap I thought I was going to get better. Nope. I just got tired. Making more mistakes on the trails as far as taking the wrong line. Hitting all the roots, holes, limbs and did I mention getting stuck in the sugar sand. I will say that me changing pedals did have its benefits. I did not crash as bad as I did the day before. Half way through the third lap I was exhausted. I remember stopping at the tip of a hill so some other riders could pass and me and another guy were going to draw straws just to see who continues on. I also noticed most of the skilled riders were wearing the camel backs for their hydration. I own two of them. Both were in my garage. A lot of good they did me this day. I tried to drink as often as I thought about it. I did not think about it enough.

Bike now done and time to run. I wore my running shoes while on the bike so I would have a faster transition. Again. What did that matter today. Off to the trails for a 5k. I started out running and then realized I was out of gas. Figured the best thing to do was walk a little and then run a little. I could do this. This trail run seems a lot different than the ones we do in Brandon. There are trees I have to climb over. Trees I have to go under. Where did this ditch come from. Is this a dried creek. No one said I had to climb during this race. So the walk run plan turned more in to a walk walk run walk trot walk plan. More of a damn nature walk. I was definitely empty. I sucked down a GU with no help. There were two water stops on the course but all I could feel was the water sloshing in my gut. Did I mention it also felt like it was 110 degrees. I know, suck it up there Walt but if I did what would the story be like. My finishing goal went from 2:45 to 3:00. I crossed the finish line at 3:00:19. Not proud of that time but I did finish. Yippee. Oh well.

I will say I felt like crap. My buddy saw me at the finish and said I looked bad. I was white as a ghost. I got some water, Gatorade, ice and a cold rag to put on my head. I sat down for a while to try and recover but I was just not bouncing back quick enough.

About an hour later I walked my bike back to my car. I was still not feeling good and decided to sit down on the pavement. No shade around. I then decided I should lay down. I put my backpack under my feet and figured someone would see me at some point and think I was just sleeping. My buddy showed up and again said I did not look good. Gee thanks. Will you tell the rescue guys that are on the mountain bikes the same thing you been telling me. I soon told that I need to get some fluids in me quick and the only way to do that would be with an IV. You know I just love needles.

I tried to just let it pass but both the rescue guys said that ain't happening. I said I did not want to go to the hospital so they called one of the fire rescue trucks. The air in that thing was like 60 degrees. It is amazing what some good oxygen and a bag of fluids will do to you. Within the hour I was back to about 90%. One of the rescue guys said you need to get in your car and turn the air on high, get some food and take it easy the next day or two.

I suppose I learned that Red Stripe does not always mean Beer. I should have drank more water the day before the race knowing how hot it was. I should have drank more during the race. I should have also gotten that damn Civic's a/c fixed before the race because it was a warm 4 hour ride home.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother Always Knows

Dear Mom, I know it has been a while since we have talked and even longer since I wrote you. I want to tell you how much I love and miss you dearly. You are still such a special woman in my life and hold a deep part of my heart. I should not have waited for this "Mother's Day" to reach out to you. Life sometimes gets so busy that we tend to overlook the people that mean so much to us. That is a lame excuse but it is the best I can do right now. On this day I would like to reflect back on our lives together as Mother and Son.

I know it was hard for you at times raising your three children as a single mother for the most part. You working those long hours only to come home and still manage to cook our dinner and put up with all the fussing that two brothers and a sister do. You were so strong not to let it show but I later learned that you were so tired at times and still kept going. Being the oldest was such a big responsibility for me but you never asked me to do things that you did not think I could do. I am so grateful now for that. When I was young I did not realize you were setting me in motion to be the man I am today. Absent all the crazy stuff I seem to find myself doing but hey if it were easy everyone would do it.

I want to thank you mom for being there for me as I was growing up. I can remember all those times you assured me everything would be okay. Like the time when my sister threw the plugged in light socket at me and it stuck to my chest and started electrocuting me. You assured me that I was not dying and the black hairs on my chest were just an early sign of puberty. And when my brother would throw his Christmas Tonka trucks at me out of anger you would assure me that he would eventually grow out of playing with toy trucks. I remember when I was playing outside and came inside thirsty and started drinking from the water jug in the kitchen. After I finished half the gallon I then looked on the jug and read "plant food". You assured me that I was not going to start growing broccoli in my stomach. I remember when my heart would get broken by a girl from school. You would tell me there are other fishes in the sea. You would also tell me that it also doesn't hurt to be a shark every once in a while. I thank you for not getting mad when you returned home from a week long business trip and my girlfriend had moved in. I think you knew it was a temporary thing and also knew she had a different agenda. Some lessons in life are best learned the hard way you would say. You would padlock the cupboards because you were tired of my brother and I eating all the groceries before the week was over.

I would like to apologize to you again for all those things I did growing up that made you upset, disappointed or down right pissed off at me. There are some things that I did that I never told you about. I do remember you saying long ago, "Your Mother always knows." I agree with that statement whole heartily. There were times once I became an adult that we would talk about things I did in high school and you would finish my sentences. "I can't believe you knew that." I use that statement now with the girls but I replace Mother with Father. But then again there are things that this Father may never want to know or at least admit knowing.

I would also like to thank you mom for being such a great Grandmother. The girls love you so. They talk about you and the fun times we have had. The times when they would stay with you when we were on vacation. I knew the only reason you wanted us up there was to have the girls stay with you. You taught them so much that I am sure it will help them in their adult lives. They miss you so much.

I appreciate those times we would talk about things in our lives as friends would do. You and I became great friends as we got older. We became great listeners as well. You were wiser than I could ever be. I try to pass it on when dealing with the girls. I can also see some of you in them when they come at me with something I have done wrong. Especially the oldest one. Which seems to be more than needed lately.

There is some much more I want to say to you right now. If I had the chance I would. I will say that I love you and forever will. This Mother's Day gig is all about you but you never needed a specific day to be recognized. You were the best mother you could be everyday and I would tell you that right now if I could.

I remember the last time I told you I loved you. It was on August 9, 2005. You laid in that hospital bed with complications from Colon Cancer surgery. You never knew you had it. Just some exploratory surgery because of some recent abdominal pain. Who would have known. We were already told that you would be leaving us soon and there was nothing we could do about it. You were not even awake. I held your finger ever so tight as a child would do for that comfort feeling when being led somewhere by their parent. You led me to so many places mom. Some of those places I have yet to reach but have not gotten off the road. Merely a journey, right. I only let go mom once I knew you were at peace. Keep looking down on us and know that we love you with no regrets. "A Mother always knows."

I love you,


As a friend of mine said in an earlier posting, always tell your family/friends you love them. You never know when they will be leaving you for the final time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

16 And Counting....

This will not be a story about my oldest daughter. That would be titled 16 Going On Bout To Drive Her Father Insane. This is about my 16Th St Anthony's Triathlon in a row.

The St. Anthony's Triathlon is an Olympic distance (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) triathlon held annually the last Sunday of April in St Petersburg, Fl. The attendance varies each year from 1500 participants to now almost 4000. The race usually sells out within the first few hours once on-line registration is open. Athletes come from all around the world to compete. It is the first race the pros use for the beginning of their season. It has also been my first race of the season for some time now. The race is also held in my hometown of sorts so I must enter. Their have been some friendly rivalries developed over the years with friends and co-workers, whether we race in the same division or not. The course is the same for all of us.

Even though I know this race is coming like clock work, this year I did not train as hard as years past. I only did two open water one mile swims and swam in the pool maybe four times. My biking has also been lacking. A few rides here and there. My running has improved with the help of a few friends but it is still not where I would like it to be but there is no one else to blame but me. Well there is this one person but hey they know who they are.

Race morning comes early. Like 4 a.m. early. I only live an hour from the race but I would rather be early than late looking for parking. I drove over with the family in tow except for the oldest one who was resting up for her high school flag football playoffs which was to start the next day. I don't want to say I heard her say under her breath, "another swim, bike, run. What's the big deal. I have passes to block and flags to pull." No. She wouldn't say anything like that would she.

I was able to use my membership card and get a parking spot 200 yards from the race site. Left the family in the car to rest while I got my body marked and put my shoes in place. I had dropped my bike off the day before but still topped off the tires with air. Some of the larger triathlons require you to put your bike in the transition area the day before. This is to cut down on the log jam on race morning. I also think it is to promote area hotel bookings. Why else would there be two big triathlons at Disney.

I gathered the family and headed to the swim start which was about a mile away. The pros would start their race at 6:45. My race would start at 7:34. There were 32 waves for this race.

The wind was about 15-20 mph gusts from the south but the water looked flat. The only thing predictable about the water conditions each year at St Anthony's is that it is unpredictable. The swim will make or break your race. Last year's swim was cancelled for everyone but the pros and even the pros said later that it was the right decision. This year's swim course was actually shorted to 1000 yards for waves 26 to 32 because of stronger winds.

I zipped up my wet suit which is a great confidence booster. I headed in to the water to take a short little swim to feel the water temp and get loosened up. Okay I will be honest with you. It is also so I can empty the kidneys. C'mon now, I ain't the only one doing it. Wait a minute. I AIN'T THE ONLY ONE DOING IT. Nasty. I love the wetsuit on the long swims when the water is just a little chilly. The twins like it as well but they don't like the solitary confinement. Swim fast they say.

The horn blows and off we go. The water was flat but crowded. There were over 120 guys in my wave. I am not fast enough to start out front so it takes a while for the group to thin out a little. I always watch for the feet ahead of me. This is really the only part of the race where you have a greater chance of dying. Lungs full of water is just not natural.

I am at the first yellow turn buoy sooner than I thought I would be. This is going to be a great swim. Or so I thought. Now the wind is at my back. Yes that helps with a bit of a push but it was not body surfing. And there were times I could not see the buoys. The tide is going out and the wind is blowing at my back. Yippy. Did I mention the course buoys are orange and so are the swim caps of my wave. Just look for a yellow buoy I say now. Turn two out of the way and still feeling good about the swim. I love me some wetsuit.

Now the swim in. Water, wind and the pain in the ass swimmer are really going to test me this morning. Waves are coming over me as I am swimming in. Wind is still blowing North and the tide is going out. I have now passed numerous other swimmers who are floating (head out of water), hanging on the surfboards and kayaks. I breathe on my right side so this helps a little since the waves were coming over me from the left. I was also able to see this swimmer, with an orange cap, swimming right at me. I reach out to push him from coming in to me. No good. He swims right across my path so I push his foot so he does not kick me. Now he should be on my left side. Oh no, here he comes again. Same thing again. This time I yell at him to swim straight. I give him a little space and also try to swim a little faster to get ahead and out of his way. For some reason he had the same strategy. What a pain in the water he was. After two more dances with him I saw that we were coming up on a larger slower swimmer so I was able to get that guy in between us. Swim is done now. Out of the water in 30 minutes. Not my fastest but considering the conditions, I will take it.

Wet suit off. Helmet on. Shoes on. I grab my bike and run to the bike exit. As me and another guy get to the bike exit, I see this four wheeler coming down one of the bike isles also heading out the exit. There was a volunteer with her arms up telling us to stop. I am thinking, "hey lady we are trying to do a race here. This four wheeler can wait." The four wheeler headed out towards the run start. Me and the other guy started to go and then this runner wearing a red leotard about fell over my front tire. He yelled for us to watch out. I am thinking, "show off. Who does that guy think he is."

Out on the bike course now. I heard a running buddy yelling at me from the top of her lungs as she said she would. I knew the bike course was going to be a bit challenging because of the wind. My advantage was that I know the course. I have ridden it numerous times. But some of you may also know that I have a problem with pacing myself. I said to myself, "Self. You will try to keep your speed at 20-22 for the most part. Save your legs for the run." I finished with a 21.7 mph pace. I could have pushed it more but held back. Time to run.

Socks on. Race belt on. Shoes on and off I go. I was already 1 hour 45 minutes in to my race. I knew I would not beat 2:30 because my fastest 10k was 48 and some change. My goal now was under 2:45. I started out with a 7:45 pace. I felt comfortable and was happy with that pace. I later slowed to a 9:30 but that was for a short time. As I was coming down the finish chute, I saw my family cheering me on. Both the family that rode with me and my running family. All were cheering loudly which tends to give you that extra boost at the end. I probably could have used it at about the 5 mile mark but hey I am sure they would have been there had they known. I finished with an 8:32 mile pace for the 10k.

My overall finish time was 2:37. Not a PR for me but I will take it considering the weather conditions and the lack of training. I also later learned that I finished high enough in my age group (top 33% 88th of 374) to qualify for the Age Group Nationals in September. I was not aware that that was even a possibility but hey Kona here I come. What is that? Hawaii is not where the Nationals are. They are where? Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Where? Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Well then, Alabama here I come.

Oh and the guy in the red leotard. He was the winner of the race. 1:48. Told you he was a show off.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Me Pace You? Yeah Right.

First of all to my readers and fans, it has been a while since I posted something. Wouldn't you know that "life" just gets in the way sometimes. I have so many stories and re-caps to tell. Have no fear they will all make their way to the blogosphere for you to enjoy.

Now the task at hand. Last Saturday, a week ago, our running group was sitting at Panera's having food and liquids when I hear Beth telling everyone that she is doing the Run For Sight 5k next Saturday. Yeah okay. Everyone kept talking about other things. "Hey! I said I am doing the Run For Sight 5k in Ybor City next Saturday". Okay. Others are running 22 miles and some are going out of town to avoid seeing fireworks. What's the big deal. "I just wanted you guys to know. I could use a pacer because I want a PR." Now when she says "pacer", she was looking at me.

Now I have never officially paced someone for a 5k race other than my two daughters. So I'm thinking, great now I am going to have to hear crying and whining. It's hot out here. When is it over. How far have we gone. Am I going to fast. Am I going to slow. Should I have pottied before we started. Should I eat a banana before the race or after. Do you think I should wear a jog bra....wait scratch that one. This is Beth wanting me to pace. I was actually honored that she would ask me to pace her. I very much agreed to run with her.

I asked Beth what her goal time was and she said 25ish. I told her that would not do. She should go for 24ish. Never settle. I say that and I am sometimes the one that settles. But hey, the pacer can always make the rules. Does not mean he has to follow them.

Our meet time was settled. 6:30 in the a.m. at the Target. Now I would hope the first thing I hear would be, "Good morning. Great to see you. I am so ready for this race." Nope. Since she already broke the boundary in her blog, this is what I heard. "I am having woman issues." Great for me. Yippy. The Run For Sight has now become the "This Crazy Bitch Is Out Of Control 5k." She assured me that it does not affect her personality at all. Once she signed the waiver, we got in Holly's car for the ride to the race.

I stayed in the car while Beth and Holly went to packet pick-up. I would like to say I just rested and stretched while sitting in the car but I was praying instead. I just happened to look over the waiver Beth signed for me and realized she did not use her real name. Oh hell this should be fun. Welcome ipod. Don't leave home without it.

We have now moved to the starting area to stretch and linger. A girl wearing a pink running shirt approached us, well actually Beth, I just happened to be standing there. She said, "aren't you the blogger." And Beth said yes and removed a Sharpie from her waist and reached out as if to sign an autograph or her running shirt or something. It just got kind of weird for a moment. Beth did her best to include Captain Nuts in the whole reading blogs thing but this girl just said the old, "oh yeah I do." Captain Nuts could tell. He knows she doesn't.

So the race was about to begin and I told Beth that I would let her run her pace at first. I would then pick it up when the time comes. I also told her we needed to be towards the front so we don't get caught having to get around people. This would cause us to have to pick the pace up before she was ready. The Star Spangled Banner. The horn. We are off. Sure enough I told her to start getting around people. Don't you just love those runners that either walk or feel that if they are at the front it will somehow make them faster. I know we are not all super fast, I surely am not, but at least put yourself in the right position before the race starts. I digress.

Beth is cooking it. She is running a 7:15 for about the first mile. I am starting to think that I have been Punked. I do not want to say it but I am damn sure hoping that she can not maintain this pace. Only because a pacer is supposed to be with the runner at the end of the race. I know those anonymous posters will say, "not for every race." Well I would hope a pacer for a 5k would start and finish with their runner. Anyways.

She starts to slow a little which was good because I did not want her to fade too soon. She was still running about 7:30 pace. I felt good with this pace. And she only groaned and moaned a few times. She sure kept looking at that watch. Just over the halfway point we caught two high school girls that were running pretty good. The chess match began. Beth dropped them just over the 2 mile point. At just about the 2.5 mark is the first time I heard her complain. She said she was starting to fade. I told her to quit looking at her watch and just run. I would make sure she was going fast enough. Two turns left and we were at 22:50. A woman said that Beth was the 6th woman so far. That had to be great to hear. I thought it was.

Holly was just in front of us. Actually very close. I remember telling Beth before the race started that she could run with Holly. No I can't. She is fast. Knock off the doubting of yourself.

The last turn and the clock had just turned 23:00. Get in there girl, I yelled. She picked it up and finished at 23:21. No puking. She had an excellent run. She filled out her time card and put it in the box. I looked and saw that hers was the only card in the box and there no other cards on the finisher board. I knew that she had won her age group but did not say anything to her confirming it. She did so well that Holly was looking for us at the finish line and did not know we were done. Holly also won her age group with a time of 23:11. Both she and Beth had PR's.

A personal note to Beth. I know you had a few rough days this week but "YOU" kicked ass. Thank you very much for asking me to pace you. I enjoyed it. At some point you will have to pace me. Now for that, "when should I eat a banana" comment. She ate one after the race.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gasparilla Marathon 2010 Recap (only one)

This will be strange. Me recapping a race in just one blog. I am already nervous and a bit scared. Also a word of warning. This is a marathon recap so there may be some adult language. Here goes.

As I mentioned earlier somewhere, either in a blog, an e-mail, phone call or just in my sleep, I have really slacked off on my Gasparilla marathon training this time around. Don't get me wrong, I do like to run. It's the damn distance that is a pain in the ass. Sometimes literally. The back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and well, you get my point. I was trying to follow some sort of training plan. I am not sure whose plan it was but it wasn't any that my fellow BRA runners were doing. Case in point. On a Saturday long run I would ask, "what are you guys running today?" "We are doing 18." "Oh hell no. I think I will go 8." Or when they did 22.5 miles I must have ran 15. I just figured what the hell it's only 22.6 miles. I have done that before. At least twice.

I was trying to do the right things leading up to the race. I ate a big pasta meal on Friday. No drinky drinky on Saturday and a small dinner before 6 pm. Went to bed early and almost got 7 hours sleep. Got up feeling fresh and ready to go.

My plan was to stick to a 9 minute pace for the entire race which would get me under my 4 hour goal. There were several of us wanting to break the 4 hour barrier. One of which was Redhead. I shall congratulate her now and again later. I should just run with the dude holding the 4:00 sign up and I will be fine. Yeah right.

This would be my first race that I ran with a pace group. Often times I just run my own pace and try not to feel the commitment of having to keep a certain pace. If I feel good, then I run good. If I feel bad, then I slow down. Basic math and science.

I started out with the pace group. This was much slower than 9 minutes pace because we were in the pack. Once the runners started to spread out, then I am sure the pace was going to pick up. Oh it did. Early on, we were running 8:15's to 8:30's. Now I understood that we needed to make up some time but damn this was a 26.2 mile race and we did not need to make up all the ground in a mile and a half. Well anyways I was still feeling good so I was just running with the flow. I eventually settled in myself after mile 6 with an 8:30 pace. Here we go again. I am not on the plan and running too fast early. But I feel good sir. I know you do but you just wait. No not me, I feel good. Good luck with that.

At mile 8 I see Tom standing on the side of the road. He was there to help pace one of us to a Boston Marathon spot. 4 hours 5 minutes. Again I figured if I stay with these guys I will break my four hours. Tom asked where is Holly. I say right behind me as in like right behind me. Turns out she and Redhead were not right behind me. They were running the 9 pace like good girls and were further back where they should be. But hey I was feeling good. Right.

Say hello to my little friend. Mile 16. Glad to see you Walt. Time for you and I to spend some time together. I have somewhere to be 16. Why don't you just slow down a bit so we can talk. Look here 16, I need to go meet 17 and so on. Pretty please. Okay, I'll slow down a little just for you. Fair enough. Now go tell 17 to call me sometime.

Brothers 17, 18 and 19 were all the same. It was their bitchy sister 20 that really slapped me in the mouth. I never said anything bad about her. Well not to her face. This was also the same time that my 4 hour pacing friends go strolling by me just following their plan. And so was the guy with the "4 hour goal" sign. I did not like him now. I tried to pick my pace up but just could not get 20 to stop her nagging. She was having this painful conversation with my quads. That bitch.

I was now at 21. What a great number. Only to be 21 again. I am sure that Greek guy had no idea the significance of the number 21. Blackjack. Legal drinking. 21 Jump Street. I digress. My pace had dropped to high 9's now. I was looking at my watch and realizing that my goal of 4 hours was not going to happen unless I picked the pace up to low 8's. Shiiiiips in the harbour. That ain't happening. I shall just cruise in at this pace. I would still be below 4:15 and PR.

Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Hey, there is the 25 mile sign. Can you guess my pace right now. I thought 20 was a bad girl. Meet her mother. The mother of all miles. The defining moment. "Your almost there." Is it just me or do you want to punch the person that says that right in the mouth. So I am not alone in that thinking. Coach EK starts to run along side me to pace me to the finish. I am glad he is there but I am so not wanting to pick my pace up.

Just as we pass the 25 mile sign, I hear this voice behind us. I turn back and see that it is B.o.b. I am wondering what part of the course did she cut. She could have at least told me ahead of time and I may have cut the same part. But I realize that woman did not cut the course. She was on fire. As I have mentioned in previous posts, she is becoming a great runner. She does not give herself enough credit. She came by me like I was standing still. Well quit honestly, I almost was. I told Coach EK to take her in. She deserved the pacing. And gone she was.

I did finish in 4:10. This was a PR by 9 minutes or so but still a PR none the less. I did feel a lot better this time around. I could at least talk and recognize my family. Will I do a fourth marathon. Sure, someday. How about the Rock n Roll Denver in October. See ya there.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

For Red.....

Hello there fellow readers. I was told by a certain friend, Redhead Jen, that my blogs did not have enough pictures. Well now here are some. Each photo has a story behind it. All I ask is that you pick one in the comments section. I will give the background of each picture that is commented on in a future blog. You may or may not win something. Probably not but this could be fun and definitely different.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's Raining Cell Phones

I made a deal with my daughters to tell the blog world a story that happened last year while on vacation. The deal was agreed upon since I have told a story about them and will post many a more in the coming weeks, months and years. That is as long as my memory holds up. And if it doesn't. You know me. I will just make it up.

Last June, the family and I flew to Washington D.C. with the in-laws for about a week. My father-in-law wanted to see the WWII Memorial and the trip was a birthday present given to him by his three daughters about four years ago.

Prior to us arriving in D.C., I had checked the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles' schedules to see if there was going to be a home game I could take my daughters to. I am one of those fathers that feels spending time with your kids goes a long way. Who knows, they may not be so reluctant to change my diaper some day.

A ball game is a good way for them to have stories to tell later in life. Another way to bond. It is not something my father and I did when I was younger but what the hell. I have no plans to be like my father. But that is another saga in and of itself.

I was born and raised in Atlanta. I am still a Braves fan. I was a fan well before the 90's. Just my luck. The Braves were going to be playing the Orioles for a three game weekend series while we were in D.C. My plan was to rent a car and take the girls to the Saturday night game. I lived in D.C. for three years and had never been to an Orioles game. This should be fun. I like baseball and they like the cotton candy, peanuts, hot dogs, dippin' dots and cold beer.

Come Saturday, we had already been in D.C. for four days. We had walked all over the place. Went to many a museums. Accidentally met Congressman Putnam from Florida. That's another story. Had a private tour of the Capital. There was one thing that kept happening on a daily basis while we were out and about. My cell phone would fall off of my shorts pocket. I would wear the plaid shorts with no belt to hook the clip to so I had to clip the phone to my pocket. Well the slightest bump would cause the phone to fall off and on to the ground or where ever gravity decided to take the thing. This would usually happen as I was going up or down stairs or escalators. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. Both my girls would tell me, "Daddy you need to put your phone in your pocket before you lose or break it." Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I am your daddy. I know what I am doing. They both just laughed as if they were some kind of clairvoyants.

Back to the game. We took the Metro to Reagan Airport to get the rental car. All was well. I tried to get us to the stadium based on memory. When I say memory, it was from looking at Mapquest on the computer two weeks ago. No GPS system in the car. But hey I am Daddy. I know where I am doing. I factored in an additional hours time just as a "getting lost" cushion. I drove north on the interstate and then took the wrong exit. Well I knew it was the wrong exit only after I got on it. I played it off as showing the girls where I used to live. "Daddy. You used to live in an embassy." Why yes I did. Well back on the right highway.

Getting to the stadium turned out to be very easy. Baltimore/Washington Parkway north til it ended at the stadium. Membership Privileges got me an upfront parking spot. Bought cheap tix at the gate. Front row of the upperdeck along the third base line. Cheap tickets mean more money available for the little ones to buy food to occupy their time while I watch the game. Yippy.

Not a bad view from the picture I provided.During the game, there was a young couple to our left that had put their camera on the wall just below the railing. Now what do you think happened. The camera demon somehow caused the camera to fall over the edge. Me and the girls look over and see this rather bad-ass looking bald guy rubbing his head as if he had just been hit by a falling object. This object just happened to be the couple's camera. The girl is leaning over and yelling sorry and offering to buy the guy a beer or name her first born after him. The security lady is recovering her camera and calming the guy down. I tell the girls, while laughing, that that is the reason you don't put stuff on the wall. I see the security lady give back the camera to the girl and give her a stern talking to. Can you see where this story is going since it was my girls that wanted me to tell it.

The eighth inning has arrived and the Braves are getting clobbered. Time to leave and beat We start to walk up the stairs and what happens. My cell phone, that is not in my pocket, bumps the hand rail and falls off my shorts. It was just like the movies when it all happens in slow motion. My phone starts bouncing down the stairs. Now my daughters are right behind me kind of providing a human shield for my phone. You would think my phone was Moses and my girls were the Red Sea because they just moved right out of the way and watched gravity play havoc with my phone. Bounce. Bounce. Phone separates from holder. Bounce. Phone and battery separate. Bounce. Battery goes over the wall and down below. Oh crap. I could have sworn the ball players were actually watching my phone fall as well. A big ooooh from the crowd.

I run down to the wall and look over to see where my phone landed. There is this bald guy rubbing his head and looking up at me. The same bald guy that already caught a camera with his head.We catch each others eyes and he is not too happy. Great. Whose laughing now. I yell down using the same lines that the girl used earlier. The same security lady was holding my battery and looking up at me. I yell down at the guy that it was an accident. Someone else in the crowd says, "Yeah. It wasn't like you threw your phone down there. Well you didn't did you."

I grab the girls and tell them that I need to go get the battery for my phone. They are both just laughing and saying told you daddy to put your phone in your pocket. I had a crisis on my hand at the moment and was in no laughing mood. I thought I may have to fight some dude for my battery or worst yet....Morgan and Morgan. They were both also saying they needed to go to the bathroom real bad. Now all that laughing will make you pee in your pants. I told them to hold it because I needed to get the battery. While I was going down a level, the security lady was coming up a level. We eventually crossed paths. She gave me my battery. I told her the story which she started to believe until she caught site of both my girls laughing. Now who is getting the stern talking to. Great again.

The girls could not understand the seriousness of the situation. They enjoyed seeing their father, as they called it, panicking. I told them I was not panicking. I was trying to avoid a bad situation. Now if I were at the game with the fellas that would be different. I would have already had 3-6 beers in me and probably would not have known the phone went over the ledge. Needless to say we made it out of there unharmed. The girls were able to go to the bathroom and my phone worked.

I have since got a new phone with a better clip but we have not been to another ball game. And when we do, I will put my phone in my pocket just for them. I enjoy hearing the girls tell this story. Each time it gets better and better. Funnier and funnier. The phone falls from higher and higher. I don't mind being the brunt of their funny stories. At least I am part of a good story they can tell.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is That A Chainsaw I Just Heard

Time for our second legs of running. C-Steve is off and running. He requested no bike or water support. He was on his own. And we for the most part, let him be on his own.

Before we broke camp and left the exchange area, I had to check on my fallen runner. I paid a visit to the luxury van and saw Stacey laying across the seat. She was bandaged on her palms, elbows, knees and toes. She looked miserable but was still managing to smile. She was not sure if she would be able to run her third leg but it was still too early to tell. I told her the Captain would figure it out when it came time. It wasn't like she was just giving up cause she was tired. The damn woman was attacked in the fog by a Bridge Troll. Remind me. I have to show C-Steve a map of where Stacey went down and see if he has any family living near that bridge.

We loaded up the van and headed towards the next exchange to wait on C-Steve. We passed him along the way and gave him some shouts of encouragement. "Your doing great Steve. Your on pace. Hurry your ass up. She's catching you. You big sissy." Now I mention "she" because during C-Steve's first leg, he happened to almost catch someone and then razzed the person and their team when he finished. Well on his second leg, he caught up to a woman and then pulled ahead of her. Well as he was closing in on the final 50 yards or so, she catches him and passes him in the exchange box. To this day he denies this ever happened but we do have the proof below.

As you can clearly see C-Steve is to the right and the woman is to the left. Plus in the other photo he is showing the hand sign of second place.

Jason was off on his second leg and also requested no bike support nor water. His run was mostly going to be on a paved trail. He again only wore his shoes, shorts, headlamp and safety vest. He passed seven other teams during his run. I drove us to the next exchange but did not hear a sound from Redhead or P-Funk-U. I was not even sure they were in the van. I could just imagine them being back at the camp area in the port-o-lets. Brake check. I hear them now.

B.o.b. was our next runner and now it was time for me to get on the bike. It was as much my demand as it was her request for me to bike. It was pretty damn dark and she would be alone on some trails and I was not letting anything happen to any of my girls on my watch. Or at least the girls in my van. Sorry Stacey. Had I been your bike escort, you would not have fallen. I'm just sayin'.

Jason trotted in and handed off to B.o.b. She was off and so was I. All her run was on paved trail. We could not see a thing other than red blinking lights ahead of us. I am sure it is beautiful scenery during the day but couldn't tell you. Wait, did I just type beautiful scenery. The "twins" are playing tricks on me.

There were some parts on B.o.b.'s run that felt like we were out in the middle of the woods. I could see some lit up farm houses right off the trail. I was thinking, this would be a perfect time to start-up a chain saw if I lived in one of those houses. I even teased B.o.b. a little about this very subject. I told her that she would have to be the bait until I got the creature killer ready because if I got taken down first then she was on her own. And balling up in to the fetal position only works on bears. Just sayin'.

There was one thing I kept noticing during B.o.b.'s run. There were never any issues when I gave her water. I was hoping she was kind of paying attention to how the whole water from bike to runner to bike process works.
B.o.b. kept a nice steady pace going. She passed four other runners. She also "chicked" one guy. Those that are unfamiliar with the term "chicked", it means a guy was passed by a woman. That "chick" being B.o.b. Now towards the end of her leg, she started slowing down. I kept telling her that there was someone behind us catching up. This caused her to pick up her pace and finish strong. When she got to the exchange, she looked back and saw no one. To this day she thinks I was making it up so she would not slow down. B.o.b., there really was someone behind you. You ran a great leg. If you zoom in on the pic, you can see in her face how much she put in to her leg.

Now B.o.b. passed off to our next runner. Her name escapes me right now.
Next: "No. No. No man. I ain't gay."